If you often find yourself looking forward to a long night of vegging out in front of the TV watching your favorite shows, you may want to throw some physical activity into the mix for the sake of your brain. A new study finds that people who watch too much TV in their 20’s tend to have impaired cognitive abilities by middle age.
The Washington Post reports about the recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry that finds those who spend long periods of time binge watching television and don’t get a lot of physical activity see a decrease in cognitive ability later in life. The study, which took place over 25 years, followed a group of more than 3,000 people from the ages of 18 to 30.
Participants in the study were required to periodically fill out surveys regarding their television viewing habits and activity levels. Those that most often revealed they watch 3 hours or more of TV per day during the 25 year study were more likely to score the lowest on the “executive function” tests. When your executive function is impaired you might misplace your keys or your wallet all the time and have a hard time getting out the door for work in the morning. Surprisingly, participant’s verbal memory did not seem to be affected by too much television viewing.
There have been studies in the past that suggest a sedentary lifestyle can be bad for your body, increasing your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. But this is the first of its kind to show just how bad sitting in front of the tube for too long can be for your brain. The main takeaway from the study appears to be that if we want to stay with it for longer, it’s important to remain active even when you are young. Researchers from the study write, “physical activity during young adulthood may preserve cognitive function and contribute to cognitive reserve by increasing neurogenesis as well as synaptic plasticity, particularly in regions associated with executive function and processing speed.”
What do you think of the study that suggests people in their 20’s who watch 3 hours of more of TV per day may lose cognitive function by middle age?
How much TV do you watch? Do you try to keep your TV viewing to a minimum?